They call him Flipper…

Cruising around on a boat with blue skies and good friends – not a bad way to spend the day. In fact, it’s the best way here in Luanda to escape the city and relax. Since returning from my trip to the states a week ago, I’ve been lucky enough to go out on the company boat twice. The first time was with some lovely ladies who live in my apartment building, and the second time, hubby and I headed out with our friends, Mr. & Mrs. Adventurous.

It is winter now in Luanda, and thus, the days are getting shorter and the weather is cooling off. The fishing season has all but ended, but  the whales have yet to arrive. Still, you never know what wonders will be seen while cruising around.

I love seeing the city from the water. The crescent-shaped Marginal with its tall buildings, a marina filled with huge yachts, and palm-lined walking path, almost looks like the French Riviera. It may take a hefty dose of imagination and some squinting to see it, but the resemblance is there.

Bay of Luanda, Angola
View of the Marginal and Luanda Bay, with ships visible in the distance.
Luanda Marina
Large yachts in the Luanda Marina.

The trip from the marina through the bay and past the port is always interesting too, though not exactly postcard pretty.  Virtually everything consumed in this country comes from somewhere else, and it all comes in to this one very poorly organized port. The bay is littered with all manner of tankers, drill ships and container ships, waiting to deliver their cargo. As our tiny boat passes through the shadows of these enormous, rust-covered vessels, they look almost deserted. The only sign  that they are not abandoned is the bilge water pouring out of a pipe in the hull.

Luanda Port
One of many oil-related vessels in the Luanda Port

Once out of sight of the port, Luanda looks like any typical vacation spot, with its deep blue water and yellow sand beaches. We always cruise along the shoreline, looking at the houses, boats and people playing on the beach, and then head off to open water to see what the day will bring.

P1020275
Luanda beaches look as tropical as any Caribbean island.

My first trip, with the ladies, brought neither fish nor whales, but we did see a number of sharks lazily swimming along the top of the water. This certainly made me think twice about taking a swim! Thankfully, the water was too cold. Once we had tired of cruising around, we headed to Mussulo Beach and enjoyed a lovely lunch at the restaurant/hotel there. It is always a pleasure to spend time with these gals, whether on the boat or not, and it was a perfect way for me to reacclimatize to Luanda after being gone for so long.

For our second trip, we were blessed with more sunny, cool weather. After cruising around for about a half hour, one of our boat motors started making a rattling noise and had to be shut off. The boat has three motors in total, so there was no worry about getting back, but we all knew that this breakdown would take the boat out of commission for several months. In fact, it takes so long to get parts brought in, that it could be well into October before it is up and running again. The second company boat is also broken, and has been for some time, so this could be our last boat ride for awhile.

Regardless of how long the repair takes, this was the last Luanda boat ride for Mr. & Mrs. A, who are retiring and moving back to the states in about a week. We all hoped this trip would bring something extra special to send them off properly, and we were not disappointed.

After cruising around at a very slow speed, due to the loss of our engine, we spied some dolphins in the distance.

Luanda dolphins
Just a few of the dolphins we played with. They were all around us!

Although we weren’t able to race to where they were, they were certainly not playing hard-to-get. We puttered along and easily caught up with them. Then, we meandered through the huge pod, while they jumped and played all around us.

Luanda dolphins
A perfectly synchronized jump. I’d give them a 9.5!
Luanda dolphin
Smile, Mr. Dolphin. You are on Candid Camera!
Luanda dolphin
Showing off for the camera!
Luanda dolphin
I think that one is looking at me!
Luanda dolphin
Playful dolphins racing the boat…

P1020320

We had seen a similar-sized pod on a previous trip with Mr. & Mrs. A, but those dolphins were much smaller – and all were headed in one direction quickly. These dolphins were huge and seemed to enjoy playing around the boat. There were also some comedians in the group, especially one fella who delighted in jumping just off the bow of the boat, turning sideways, and splashing down, drenching us all. He did this over and over again, as we squealed from being hit with the icy cold water.

Luanda dolphin
Jump, jump!

I would have loved to snap some photos of his antics, but I had my camera tucked into my shirt to keep it dry. We did get plenty of shots of them just under the water and riding along beside us, and I certainly didn’t mind getting soaked. Just seeing those acrobatics was more than worth the goosebumps!

Dolphin jumping
He got some air on this jump…
Luanda dolphin
Checking us out, up close and personal…
Luanda dolphin
They were all around us…

After more than a hour of dolphin play time, we headed to another stretch of beach, a bit more remote than where I had been a few days before. We anchored the boat and brought our lunches on to the beach, set up chairs and umbrellas, and just enjoyed having our toes in the sand.

Mussulo Island, Luanda
A beach on Mussulo Island.

There were several other large pleasure boats already anchored there, one of which also pulled a jet-ski. This made for some free entertainment when the jet-skier headed out pulling a guy along on a wakeboard. The jet-ski driver was obviously inexperienced. We could see – and hear –  that the wakeboarder was none too pleased at his lack of driving skills! Over and over, the driver sped up and quickly slowed down, which caused the wakeboarder to jerk forward and then bog down in the wake and fall. Oh well, it was fun for us to watch, even if it was not any fun for the guy at the end of the rope.

Luanda beach
Let’s go fly a kite!
Luanda beach
The fishermen in the boat on the left had caught some cuttlefish.

After walking the beach to look for shells, tossing a frisbee and flying a kite, it was time to head back to the city – very slowly, of course. None of us minded the extra time it took to get back, as the weather was still so pleasant. We will miss going out on the boat for the next few months, but will certainly miss Mr. & Mrs. Adventurous a lot longer than that. Luckily for us, they are retiring to a place not far from where our son lives, so we plan to visit them in the near future.

Luanda
I have no idea what kind of bird this is, but it was huge!

Although activities like these are special indeed, it’s the people who make these postings so memorable. In our short time here, we have  connected with some great folks. Our numbers may be getting smaller, but I have no doubt that the “stayers” will work just that much harder to look out for each other. That’s just what expats do!

Luanda dolphin
A farewell jump with the Luanda shoreline in the distance.

©2015 Cheryl – All Rights Reserved

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